In yesterday’s message at Hollywood Community Church, we studied the person of Satan – his origin, his fall and his present task of attempting to prevent the work and plans of God. The topic, once again, brought up the valid question, “Why didn’t God just get rid of this guy?” Certainly, with infinite power and unlimited authority, God could have eliminated Lucifer with a simple thought or the blink of an eye. How come He didn’t? Why did God tolerate Satan to live and why does He allow him continued freedom to mess up people’s lives?
First of all, we must recognize that God operates outside of the realm of human reasoning. By that I mean, that God’s ways and works do not always make human sense. He doesn’t organize, administrate or operate in a way that we can completely comprehend. Isaiah 55:8, 9 states, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than you ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Although, eradicating our number one adversary, certainly makes sense to us, it did not fit within God’s sovereign plans.
What purposes, then, could God have in mind for allowing the Devil to operate? Let me clearly state that the Bible does not give us a well-defined answer to that question. If only Jesus would have elucidated us on God’s divine purposes for the devil or if Paul in Ephesians would have answered the “why” questions as to Satan’s existence, but neither chose to do that. So we are left to biblically speculate. By that I mean, we must take the truth that God has given us in His word and thus arrive at biblical conclusions. With that said, here are the reasons why I believe God chose to not destroy Satan.
1. Satan lives today to shine light on God’s divine beauty
The Gospel of John clearly articulates many contrasts (light and darkness, truth and error, and life and death). Just as darkness draws attention to the brightness of light and error is exposed by truth, so God’s infinite, matchless beauty is emphasized and made even more beautiful when contrasted with the ugliness and the evilness of Satan.
In discussing this exact point, John Piper makes the following statement…
The glory of Christ is seen in his absolute right and power to annihilate or incapacitate Satan and all demons. But the reason he refrains from destroying and disabling them altogether is to manifest more clearly his superior beauty and worth. If Christ obliterated all devils and demons now (which he could do), his sheer power would be seen as glorious, but his superior beauty and worth would not shine as brightly as when humans renounce the promises of Satan and take pleasure in the greater glory of Christ.
2. Satan lives today to shine light on the power of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.
The simple truth is that life is a struggle. Not only do we face the enticements of our enemy, but we also confront the daily battles with the world and our own flesh (I John 2:15-17). By allowing Satan, temptation and evil to exist, God helps us to see that the transforming power of the crucified and risen Christ is greater than Satan’s enticements. In Ephesians 1:19, 20 Paul says, “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.”
One writer said it this way..
God has ordained that Satan have a long leash—with God holding onto it—because he knows that when we walk in and out of those temptations, struggling both with the physical and moral effects that they bring, more of God’s glory will shine in that battle than if he took Satan out yesterday.
Each believer is a shining testimony to the fact that the Spirit that lives within us is greater than the spirit that lives in the world (I John 4:4). God’s power working in us and through us is a glorious testimony to the fact that God’s transforming power is stronger than Satan’s temptations.
3. Satan lives today to make a clear distinction between good and evil
One of the foundational principles of post-modernism is the absence of absolute truth. What is right for you may not be right for me. And, what is sin to you isn’t necessarily sin for me. The barrier between right and wrong and between good and evil is slowly being eliminated from the fabric of our society. Yet, there clearly is a difference. God’s holiness stands out in stark contrast to the moral obscurity that is postulated today.
How does God respond to that? Quite frankly, God does not desire to be joined to the world or randomly joined together with the impure, the immoral or the ungodly. In II Corinthians 6:14, 15 Paul states, “Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil?” Allowing Satan to still be around demonstrates a clear distinction between God’s holiness and the enemy’s blasphemous desires.
4. Satan lives today because God has his final fate precisely planned
Let us not be mistaken into thinking that Satan is alive today because he somehow has been able to avoid or escape God’s wrath. He is not any more of a threat to God than a tiny ant is to you and me. No, his fate is eternally sealed. He has no chance for victory. There is no possibility of delay or even a commutation of his sentence. God is simply waiting for the “fullness of time” to fulfill His plan with His chief adversary.
Revelation 20:10 states, “Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Be sure that the wheels of God’s divine plan are slowly moving forward and one day, in God’s perfect time, the devil’s eternal fate will be sealed. You can count on that!
5. Satan lives today to demonstrate that life absent from the presence of God is worse than even destruction.
Frequently, we hold to the false assumption that destruction is the worst thing that could have happened to Satan, but that is not the case. Annihilation would have been a gracious release in comparison to a life void of God. The fact that Satan and his cohorts will live forever and forever separated from God is the worse punishment that they could have ever received.